Posts Tagged ‘London’

The Watcher Smiled

Posted: May 17, 2014 in Biographical
Tags: , , ,

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It has been so long since my last post to this blog that I had to stop and ask myself whether or not anyone would even notice this new stirring of activity.

However, being noticed is contrary to my approach to life. So being able to randomly pour out this collection of thoughts unobserved would be as fitting as any other moment I have casually sat back and watched the whirring world pass by.

Why the unexpected post? Well – I find myself back in London, visiting family ahead of a day out tomorrow at Brands Hatch, and as usual – I find myself sitting and quite literally watching the world go by.

This time however, I can’t help but feel contented and serene as I perch on the dockside, just a stones throw away from London’s Excel exhibition centre – as I take in the breeze, the rare but welcome rays of sunshine bathing the marina and the sounds of a city alive with perpetual motion.

All around there is a sense of activity, energy and life. Whether it is the city jets on final approach to London City airport, the Emirates cable cars transporting passengers from the Docks to Greenwich and the O2 Arena or the now stationary and merely architecturally contributory remnants of the cranes that once were part of the everyday life of a city fed by the commercially vital London Docklands – life continues on it’s passage through the corridors of time.

Life goes on, time passes by and as I approach four decades of watching – I can’t help but sit back and smile.

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Last night I finished work at 10PM, sat in front of the television and felt my heart sink at the scenes playing continuously on each and every news channel.

These are not protests; these are not public demonstrations in support of any cause – these are acts of pure and simple criminality and I am loathed to accept, understand or consider any arguments or points of view put forward to mitigate them in any way.

I logged on to a forum I visit frequently and saw this post from someone trying to give reason to the acts of random and unrestrained violence we have been subjected to up and down the country:

There obviously is a reason

Something makes people behave in a particular way and it gets to the point where every sense of logic goes out of the window. Why don’t kids in Richmond or posh areas act like this? Environment and experience obviously has a lot to do with it.   It’s easy for all of us to cast judgement but im willing to the bet the majority here are middle class and haven’t spent their entire lives in relative poverty and unemployment.

I’m not condoning the behaviour and i know lots of other people in poor areas don’t resort to this kind of behaviour but at the same time it seems short-sighted to say “there is no reason, economic, political, policing for this kind of behaviour”

My response was probably one of the least charitable and inflexible stances I have taken on any subject in quite some time:

I understand the point you’re making – so I’d like to add the perspective of someone who was, is and will always be working-class to my core:

I am 37, black, grew up in Peckham, London, SE15. Middle child to a mother that had to raise us on social benefits,(sometimes) go without food so we could eat, (at times) made clothes out of fabrics she could lay her hands on and yet she managed to raise us; three boys; through the 80’s riots without ever fearing we were involved or would have the inclination to be involved – we had respect!

I now live in Netherton and am wondering what the hell excuse the idiots that are tearing up Birmingham feel they have for their actions.

10 year olds, 13 year olds out causing damage and destruction to property in their own areas? No the Met is not silly – my mum knew exactly where we were when the rioters were making their way from Brixton, through Camberwell and were setting fire to the carpet store in Peckham – 600 metres from where we lived. We were at home, we were indoors, we were where she expected us to be.

Yes these riots will be explained away as a response to the economic situation we are in; to the cuts we are facing and the prospects people may or may not have for the future. But these riots are nothing of the kind. These riots aren’t like those of the 80’s; these are even more senseless. These people have little respect for anything other than their own sense of what they feel they are entitled to – everything and anything!

Yep – I am well and truly on top of my soapbox right now; because the senseless destruction is going to achieve nothing other than even less civil liberties and even more economic pressure for us all.

I have no love for the police but right now they are in the proverbial rock and hard place; show leniency and patience – weak; go in strong and worry about some TV camera capturing another potential G8 moment.

And just in case I might perhaps soften my stance and reconsider the damning verdict I am espousing to anyone who will listen, I hear a young ‘lady’ on BBC 5 Live stating:

“We are doing this to show the police we aren’t afraid of them… it’s the government’s fault, the Conservatives or whoever… this is to show the rich people..”

I ask you – just how ignorant do you have to be to believe you have any right to act in such a flagrant and disgraceful way; destroying the facilities, services and livelihoods of the very people you call your neighbours; the very communities to which you belong?

I at first agreed with the concept that these were the acts of people who were potentially getting ‘caught up in the moment’, with adrenaline fuelling their frenzied rage.  However, I was wrong – of course I was; you can’t excuse your behaviour, once you are eventually caught, with a ‘I just got carried away’ – not when you have made plans, hours beforehand, to meet up and loot for any and anything you can lay your hands on.

I wrote in an earlier blog  that I thought the world had gone mad when it decided it was right for a child to divorce their parents.  It wasn’t because I felt a child should be subjected to abuse or that a parent had a divine right to neglect their child in any way.  What I thought was reprehensible was the erosion of the respect that a child, a youth, should have for their elders; their community and for their parents.

I am not naive enough to believe that every parent would have been able to keep their child off the streets during the past three nights of rioting and looting, but I am convinced it would not have lasted this long if the youth of today did not believe they had a divine right to do whatever it is that they want.

BBC News live just showed footage of a young ‘lady’ stating the following, when speaking of the police attempting to restore order to our streets:

“We will respect them, when they respect us..”

How ironic, don’t you think?  Where is the respect for public order?  Where is the respect for the community?  Where is the respect for anyone other than yourself?  Where is the respect for us?

At the end of August 2007 I was fortunate enough, and I choose my words carefully, to be graced by the presence of true genius.

For you see – as I took my seat in the O2 Arena London, gazing around in barely contained excitement, I knew, just knew, that the night would prove to be an experience that would reverberate for the rest of my life.

The Artist – formerly known as Prince, had reclaimed his regal moniker and was about to stamp his artistic and funk inspired authority on the capital. Stamping it indelibly and in a fashion that would ensure that his end of show statement, that he did not care who else came to London – because the O2 Arena was now his house – would prove to be indisputable.

The performance that night was one of 21 nights that Prince would pack out the O2 Arena. It was one of the most sensational, the most awe inspiringly emotional and insatiable live performances of this or any other generation. When the house lights fell and the tension in the air became almost palpable – the anticipation of the crowd, and it was a crowd that numbered 20’000, reached fever pitch.

“You ain’t ready for me London” – “This is real music, not what you’re used to!”

Prince had arrived on stage!

The set that he played and strutted his way through that night took you back, way back, to when music was music. When artists were multi-talented performers, entertainers, vocalists of unimaginable talent – and it made me long, it made me hunger – it made me want more. Prince duly delivered, with verve, killer vocals and a swaggered panache that proved what true talent is all about.

The crowd were energetic that night – enthusiastic, appreciative and totally seduced by the performance of one of the most prolific and talented song-writers the world will ever know.

And then the night was over – over too soon. We waited. We cheered. We stamped our feet and called out his name – hoping we could coax one more song, one more moment from him. He had already stated we would all miss the last train home if we did not leave – but he was in his element, toying with us – tantalising us with just a few chords on his guitar.

The double-encore at the end of the night demonstrated just how much Prince was enjoying the occasion as much as, if not more than those gathered in his presence. His challenge to the crowd – not to play with him, as he had too many hits – just reinforced his status as a living legend. And when it came – when he appeased us, he allowed us one more moment of ecstasy – Purple Rain.

For those who were there that night – Prince proved once and for all that he was, and always would be, the Crown Prince of Rock, Pop, Funk, Jazz, R&B and Soul. The pretenders to his thrones, and he has many, were duly put in their place. Resoundingly educated on just how far they had to climb to even hang on to the coat-tails of a man that stands no taller than 5’2″.

The aftershocks of that night can still be felt to this day. Because – no matter how hard they may try, the engineered and over produced ‘idols’ of this generation – ultimately come up short, every single time.

And they will always fail to measure up to the true talents that we have lost along the way: Michael Jackson; Luther Vandross; Marvin Gaye and James Brown – consummate and irrepressible performers who have gone too soon.